The world of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is taking the healthcare industry by storm. Crafting real world patient scenarios into a virtual experience can be inventive, effective, and educational; a relationship many institutions are exploring in our technological world. With advanced VR headset technologies now commonly available, utilizing immersive VR resources are easier than ever.
When medical training is halted because of distance, pandemics, or cost, expert instruction can be widely accessed as if it were a video game; all through industry-leading VR technology.
You might be wondering, what does this actually look like? We want to show you just a few applications of VR in the healthcare world. They will demonstrate the vital role of VR in the future of healthcare innovation.
VR is Changing Healthcare Education and Training
Utilizing VR healthcare starts at the very beginning: education. The rigorous education that healthcare professionals go through is no accident; this industry expects a lot! As technology continues to improve and influence various fields, it is inevitable that education must evolve as well. If the medical field cannot keep up with technology, then it will leave us behind to fend for ourselves.
Education and training is moving forward quickly thanks to virtual reality. Where once educators had to scramble to find spaces, money, and programs that fit their needs, healthcare education VR programs can be a one-stop resource. Training done through virtual reality can be accomplished at a distance. Many schools are switching to online or distance learning because of COVID-19. With training material shared through VR headsets like our free COVID-19 training cases, students and staff members can practice important program specific skills to continue their education.
Educators are ever-mindful of the space needed to teach and student’s health and safety. Take the physical aspect of teaching out of the equation and you are left with many options for top-notch education curated by medical professionals and shared all over the world. Utilizing virtual reality in healthcare education also assures that curriculum can be updated and implemented efficiently. Researching new curriculum and methodology can take months, even years when the task is especially difficult. However, tapping into VR technology for your curriculum not only draws from the knowledge of your institution, but from the expertise from curriculum experts around the world.
Not only students, but healthcare staff can be trained quickly and easily through VR or AR technology. For example, when training supplies are low, VR will help you show your staff the tools and methods needed to accomplish any task. Utilizing the hands-on nature of a virtual environment, students and staff will learn the necessary movements and habits of both new and practiced tasks.
VR is Improving Patient Communication
You might have a singular image of VR in your head; maybe it involves wielding a virtual sword, slaying virtual dragons in virtual games. However, in order to fully realize the potential of virtual experiences, we have to expand our view of what VR does.
While being able to teach the hands on skills with VR is a great resource, it can also be used to create scenarios that teach healthcare professionals the soft skills of the job and help them communicate to patients with empathy. This is especially important when communicating with patients who have mental health challenges or chronic pain. Speaking with empathy and understanding is vital for many to receive the care and treatment that they need.
Virtual reality technology allows an educator or supervisor to oversee their practitioners and staff as they practice their communication skills. If correction is needed, leaders can then implement further scenarios or discussions that will lead to improvement.
Consider this VR scenario: a patient is presented to the participant who is panicking and recovering from shock. The participant must simultaneously check essential functions while calming down the patient. Leaders can program in keywords that the participant must mention in order to accomplish the task. Just like a video game quest or common assessment, the trainee will learn the right words to say in a situation where empathy and mindfulness is needed.
VR is Cutting Costs and Enabling Distance Learning
It is easy to be intimidated by a price tag on systems you aren’t sure will be worth it. Expenses are a source of constant worry for most educators: how much should students pay for this course? How much will we pay for further education? Will any of it be worth it for students and staff?
Online and distance learning is already changing how we approach education costs across all fields. However, it is the quality of the content that most are concerned with. Where there was once whiteboards full of information, diagrams, and a combination of visual, kinetic, and aural learning, there is now a screen with the occasional slide presentation or video.
With VR programs, you can distance learn with maximum results. The cost of education will be worth just as much as it would in a face-to-face lecture or demonstration. Virtual reality allows the system to track your movements, the turn of a head, and hand gestures until it feels like students never left the classroom.
The flexibility of VR is not the only reason it is cost effective. Programs shared with VR can be used over and over again with minimal oversight. Once the system is set and calibrated to your institution’s goals, it can be used freely with only one or two other people involved. This frees up healthcare professionals to continue their work while also pursuing further education.
VR has many benefits and a lot of potential involving educator to student, professional to professional, or supervisor to staff interactions. However, there is still more to experience in the realm of patient to practitioner relations.
For example, patients can use VR and AR in the comfort of their own homes to participate in rehabilitation treatments instead of going to a facility. The same software that allows at-home treatment can be used to track progress. In a one-stop program monitored by a healthcare professional, patients can receive the maximum care with greater flexibility.
This is especially relevant for patients who are suffering from multiple illnesses that keep them from leaving their homes or those with limited mobility. Using virtual reality in physical therapy rehab clinics shows promise to speed the healing process and promote movement.
Try it out for yourself! VR in healthcare has already seen many results and will continue to progress and improve. Only in practice can healthcare professionals, medical students, educators, employers, and staff find out if it is the right fit. Just like any good program, there are opportunities to cater VR programs to your specific goals.
SimX VR is one of the leading companies in the healthcare industry. You can download two free multiplayer COVID-19 cases today and see if VR fulfills your training needs.